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Title: ABC of Vegetable Gardening
Author: Rexford, Eben E. (Eben Eugene)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                       HARPER'S A-B-C SERIES


  A-B-C OF VEGETABLE GARDENING.
    By EBEN E. REXFORD

  A-B-C OF CORRECT SPEECH.
    By FLORENCE HOWE HALL

  A-B-C OF ARCHITECTURE.
    By FRANK E. WALLIS

  A-B-C OF HOUSEKEEPING.
    By CHRISTINE TERHUNE HERRICK

  A-B-C OF ELECTRICITY.
    By WILLIAM H. MEADOWCROFT

  A-B-C OF GARDENING.
    By EBEN E. REXFORD

  A-B-C OF GOOD FORM.
    By ANNE SEYMOUR

  16mo, Cloth


                    HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK



                   A-B-C OF VEGETABLE GARDENING

                                BY
                          EBEN E. REXFORD


                   HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
                         NEW YORK & LONDON



                   A-B-C OF VEGETABLE GARDENING

               Copyright, 1916, by Harper & Brothers
              Printed in the United States of America
                     Published February, 1916



                             CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                PAGE


        FOREWORD                                          1

  I.    GETTING THE GARDEN READY                          8

  II.   LAYING OUT THE GARDEN                            13

  III.  PLANTING THE GARDEN                              17

  IV.   SEEDS THAT GIVE BEST RESULTS                     20

  V.    EARLY GARDEN WORK                                23

  VI.   VEGETABLE PLANTS IN THE HOUSE                    27

  VII.  STANDARD VARIETIES OF VEGETABLES                 33

  VIII. SMALL FRUITS AND THEIR CULTURE                   56

  IX.   HOTBEDS AND COLD-FRAMES                          68

  X.    SMALL GARDENS                                    76

  XI.   LEFT-OVERS                                       81

  XII.  HEALTH IN THE GARDEN. A CHAPTER EXPRESSLY
        FOR WOMEN READERS                               111



                             A-B-C OF
                        VEGETABLE GARDENING



                   A-B-C OF VEGETABLE GARDENING



FOREWORD


Not everybody has a garden. Some deny themselves the pleasure
and the profit of one because they have never had any experience
in gardening, and have somehow got the impression that special
training is necessary to make a success of the undertaking. Here
is where they make a mistake. There is no special "knack" about
it. Any one who owns a bit of land, and has some time that can
be given to garden-work, and an inclination to do so, can make a
gardener of himself in a season--and a successful one, too--if
he allows himself to be governed by the advice of some one who
has had some experience along this line. After the first season
he will not be likely to ask or need advice, for the practical
knowledge which comes with one season's work among vegetables will
not only be sufficient to enable him to go on with his gardening
operations on his own responsibility, but it will have made him
so enthusiastic over them that he will be eager to enlarge his
knowledge of "the green things growing," and in doing this he will
find a pleasure that will make him wonder how he ever came to
consider gardening something to dread.

Others, who have but a small piece of land, may think it not worth
while to attempt to grow vegetables on it. They labor under the
impression that a garden, in order to prove a success, requires
more land than is at their disposal. Here is where _they_ make a
mistake. Of course one cannot grow a large quantity of vegetables
on a small piece of ground, but the one who undertakes to make the
most of a small piece will be surprised at the amount that can be
grown on it. In a garden that is not more than twenty-five feet
square a friend of mine grows all the summer vegetables required
by his family of four persons. This calls for what the scientific
people call "intensive gardening," and makes it necessary to plant
and plan for a succession of vegetables; but that twenty-five
feet square of ground enables him to get a good share of the
summer living of his family.

Another notion is, that in order to have a good garden a large
amount of time and labor must be expended on it. Not so. A very
small amount of systematized labor will be demanded by even
a good-sized garden, if it is planned in such a manner that
labor-saving tools can be used in its cultivation. If we look back
to the gardening days of fifty or even twenty-five years ago,
when everything was done at the hardest and the hand had to do a
good share of the work that we now do with helpful implements,
it is not to be wondered at that the old-time care of a garden
discourages many from undertaking to have one. Happily those days
are over, and with the gardening facilities of the present it is
an easy matter to accomplish more in an hour than could be done
then in a day. There is really no drudgery in gardening as it is
done to-day. On the contrary, there is positive pleasure in the
operation of the machinery which inventive genius has furnished
for the up-to-date gardener's use.

Those who have never had a garden of their own, but have bought
vegetables in the ordinary market, are not in a position to
understand the wide difference between the article we buy and the
one which is taken directly from the ground and eaten at once.
While it is possible to keep most vegetables looking fresh for a
considerable time by the use of water and ice, it is not possible
to make them retain that delicacy of flavor known only to those
whose vegetables go straight from the garden to the kitchen. If
you want any vegetable _at its best_ you must grow it in your own
garden.

The general impression seems to be that gardening is essentially
man's work, and that women and children are not equal to it. This
is another mistake that will rapidly be done away with, for the
woman of to-day is no longer a housed-up woman. She is rapidly
learning the value of fresh air, and the tonic of outdoor life is
fast taking the place of the doctor's prescriptions. The writer
knows of many women who have found work in the garden not only a
healthful occupation, but one so delightful that they look forward
to spring with most pleasurable anticipations, and long for the
time to come when they can get to work out of doors. When we have
tried both we learn that work in the vegetable-garden is no harder
than that in the flower-garden, and that neither demands more
strength or time than the average woman is able to give it if she
makes use of labor-saving tools. What is true of the woman is
equally true of the children. A child ten years of age can do a
good deal of the work that a good-sized garden calls for.

I would not be understood as advocating the giving up of
garden-work to women and children. I would not deny man the
pleasure of sharing in it. But I would urge the importance of
interesting women and children in it, and of encouraging them to
take part in it from the viewpoint of health. Benefit in other
respects will become so apparent, after a little, that further
encouragement will not be necessary. Most women who have some
leisure--especially if they are of the housewife class--will be so
pleased with the results of gardening that they will be glad to
supplement the labors of the man of the family by what they can
accomplish in it, if he is employed in work that will not allow
him to devote much time to the garden. And they will find that the
boys of the family--and the girls as well--can be made to take
an active part in the good work with but little encouragement
from their elders. It is natural for both boys and girls to dig
in the soil, and it is well to encourage them to dig to some
purpose. It is natural work, and healthy work, and work that will
do more to keep the average child out of mischief than any other
influence that can be brought to bear on it. But I would not allow
the child to get the impression that I gave it garden-work to do
as a mischief-preventative. That would spoil everything. Aim to
interest the boys and girls in the mysterious processes of nature.
Encourage them to plan and execute as much of the work as can
safely be trusted to them. In a short time you will find that most
of them are equal to all the requirements of the ordinary garden.

I have often been told by those who have had years of experience
in garden-work that at least half one's living for half the year
can be obtained from the garden, even if it happens to be a small
one, and my own experience bears out the truth of this statement.
If we grow our own vegetables we are quite sure to have a greater
variety to add to the daily bill of fare than would be the case if
we were to buy them. We have them when we want them without making
a trip to the market for them, or depending on the uncertainties
of telephone orders which grocers so frequently fill by sending
vegetables of a quality that would not satisfy us if we gave them
personal inspection before purchasing. The entire family will be
delighted with the frequent changes that can be made in the bill
of fare, and no one more so than the housewife who often finds it
a difficult matter to plan for a variety of food when the family
income does not warrant a liberal outlay.

No owner of a bit of ground that can be made into a garden can
afford to let it remain unused. If he does so he does it in
disregard of the economy which most of us are obliged to consider
and practise in these days of high prices and the increasing cost
of daily living.

Have a garden if you can.



I

GETTING THE GARDEN READY


The amateur gardener will almost invariably be in too great a
hurry to begin gardening operations in the spring. But a few warm
days are not sufficient to put the ground in proper condition
for seeding, or even for plowing and spading. The frost must be
allowed to get out of it, and after that an opportunity must be
given for surplus water from melting snows and spring rains to
drain away before work can be done to any advantage. As a general
thing not much can be done in gardening at the North before the
first of May. It is an old saying that "haste makes waste," and
the gardener who is in too great a hurry often learns the truth
which underlies the saying by the failure to germinate of the seed
he puts into the ground very early in the season.

Another old saying that should be kept in mind is that "one
swallow does not make a summer." Read "warm day" for "swallow"
and you will get the force of the statement. It is not advisable
to do much at gardening until you are reasonably sure that warm
weather has come to stay. Even if early-planted seed comes up,
spells of cold weather, and often of frost, which we are likely to
have at the North until about the first of May, will have such a
debilitating effect on comparatively hardy plants that those grown
from later sowings, when all conditions are favorable, will come
to maturity ahead of them. Therefore it will be seen that it is
poor policy to be in too great a hurry, and good policy to wait
for what the farmer calls "growing weather" before doing much work
in the garden.

If very early vegetables are wanted it will be necessary to start
them in the hotbed. In another chapter I will give some directions
for the making and management of this very important adjunct of
gardening.

The first thing to do in making a garden is to plow or spade it.
Plowing is not admissible on small grounds, but where there is
room enough to allow a team and plow to operate I would advise
it in preference to spading, because it will save a good deal of
hard work, and greatly expedite matters. Before plowing some
system of manuring should be decided on, as whatever fertilizer is
used should be worked well into the soil, and this the plow can
do most effectively. Barn-yard manure, if old and well rotted,
is better than anything else I have any knowledge of for all
kinds of vegetables, but unfortunately it is seldom obtainable by
those who do not live in the country. There are many commercial
fertilizers on the market, but not all kinds of them are adapted
to all kinds of soil. In order to secure the best results it is
advisable that the amateur gardener should consult some dealer
in these fertilizers in his immediate vicinity, or some one who
has had personal experience in their use, with a view to making
sure that he is getting just the kind best adapted to the soil in
his garden. It is absolutely necessary that he should do this,
in fact, for if he buys at random he runs the risk of getting
something that will fail to answer his purpose.

While it is always advisable to apply whatever fertilizer is used
before plowing, commercial fertilizers can be applied later with
good effect; but it will be necessary to apply them in such a
manner that they do not come directly into contact with the seed,
as many of them are so strong that they kill it.

Plow the garden deeply, for by so doing you bring to the surface
a stratum of soil in which there is more latent fertility than in
that close to the surface.

After plowing, allow the soil to remain as thrown up from the
furrow for two or three days. Sunshine and warm air will have
a disintegrating effect on it, which will make it easy for you
to reduce it under the application of hoe and iron rake to that
mellow condition so necessary to the welfare of the plants you
propose to grow. It should be worked over and over until not a
lump is left in it. You cannot expect to grow good vegetables in
a soil that has not been well pulverized before seed is planted.
Large grounds, or those of a size that admit of the use of horses,
can be speedily mellowed with the harrow, which should be run over
the ground from all directions until it is thoroughly pulverized.
In the small garden the rake and hoe will have to take the place
of the harrow.

Small pieces of ground should be spaded. Let the soil remain as
thrown up by the spade for two or three days before attempting to
work it.

I have been told by some amateur gardeners that they did not
use much manure because trees and shrubs that grew in close
proximity to their gardens were so thrifty without manuring that
they felt confident that the soil must be quite rich enough for
vegetables without resorting to the use of any fertilizer. These
persons lacked the experience which would have enabled them to
understand the wide difference between tree and vegetable growth.
A tree or a bush sends its roots deeply and widely into the soil,
and applies to its uses food that the vegetable cannot send its
roots in search of. The roots of most garden plants do not extend
far in any direction, nor go very deep; therefore food must be
given directly to them if we would secure the best possible
result. There are very few gardens in which the natural soil has
a sufficient amount of nutriment to produce the effect we aim at
without the addition of some kind of plant-food.

A rich soil is absolutely necessary in order to hasten
development. Unless a vegetable makes a quick growth it is pretty
sure to be lacking in tenderness and flavor. Of course it is
possible to apply a greater amount than a plant can make use of,
thus forcing an unhealthy growth, but this is not likely to happen
if we consult the wise old gardener who knows his garden and the
plants he grows in it as a mechanic knows the machine he uses.



II

LAYING OUT THE GARDEN


There will be little "laying out" to do in the small garden. Here
the chief aim will be to make use of every available bit of soil;
the beds will be narrow, and the paths between them will be just
wide enough to walk in, and these will be the only portions of
the ground in which something is not grown. Not much chance for
planning, you see.

In the larger garden it will be not only possible, but advisable,
to do considerable planning.

If a garden-cultivator is used--and this should be done whenever
possible--plan for rows that will enable you to run it the entire
length of the garden without turning. Beds are no longer in favor
with gardeners who aim to reduce the work to be done to the
minimum, for in them the cultivator cannot be used to advantage,
and weeding cannot be done with the facility which characterizes
row-planting, nor can the hoe be used as effectively. There is
really no argument that can be advanced in favor of the old
bedding system for gardens in which we propose to use labor-saving
implements.

If possible, have the rows run north and south. This enables the
sun to get at the ground lengthwise of the rows, and between them,
which it could not do if they ran east and west, as the plants in
them would shade all the ground except that in the first and most
southerly row. It is not enough that the sun should get at the
tops of the plants. The soil needs its vivifying effect.

Plant with regard to the height and habit of the vegetables you
propose to grow. Give corn a place at the side of the garden. Then
peas which grow tall enough to require bushing, and then beans,
working down through potatoes, tomatoes, and beets and other
low-growing kinds to onions, radishes, and cucumbers.

If the garden-cultivator is to be used, leave a space about
eighteen inches wide between the rows to work in. This implement
can be adjusted to fit any width desired. Its teeth can be set to
throw the soil toward a plant or away from it. It can be made to
do deep or shallow work, as the case may require. As a general
thing, after a plant has attained some size we throw the soil
toward it. If the teeth are set to do this we go down one side of
the row and back on the other, thus throwing the soil about the
plant alike on both sides.

It will probably be necessary to remove some weeds _in the row_,
which cannot be reached by the cultivator. This can be done most
effectively by the use of a hoe which is triangular in shape, with
the handle-socket in the center of it. One side is a blade like
the ordinary hoe. The other comes to a sharp point, with which
it is possible to work close to a plant without running any risk
of injuring it--something that cannot be done with the ordinary
wide-bladed hoe. Weeds that grow up side by side with vegetable
seedlings can be picked away from them so easily, and without
disturbing them in the least, that no hand-pulling will have to be
resorted to in cleaning the rows.

Where the garden-cultivator is used there will be very little work
to do with the hoe, as this implement stirs the soil and uproots
weeds at the same time. But in the small garden either hoe or
weeding-hook will come into daily use. The weeding-hook is a most
important tool, though its cost is but ten or fifteen cents. It
enables one to do a good deal of weeding in a short time, does its
work well, and does away entirely with hand-pulling, which has
heretofore been one of the chief arguments that men have advanced
against gardening.



III

PLANTING THE GARDEN


Most persons make the serious mistake of covering garden seed too
deeply. Very small seed needs hardly any covering. Indeed, it does
its best, as a general thing, when simply scattered on the surface
and pressed down into the soil by a smooth board. This embeds the
seed in the soil, which is made firm enough under the pressure
of the board to retain a sufficient amount of moisture to assist
germination. Very fine seed often fails to sprout if covered too
deeply.

But most of the seed of garden vegetables is not fine enough to
admit of this method of planting. If a seed-sower is not used,
little furrows should be made by drawing a stick through the soil,
into which the seed should be dropped as evenly as possible. It
should then be covered lightly and the soil should be pressed
down with the hoe to make it comparatively firm. The probabilities
are that many more plants will come up than it is advisable to let
grow. These surplus seedlings should be removed from the rows as
soon as the plants get a good start.

Nearly all gardeners make use of the seed-sower. This is an
implement that can be adjusted to sow all kinds of seed more
evenly than it can be sown by hand, and it can be sown thickly
or thinly, as desired, and at any required depth. It cannot be
used to much advantage in the very small garden, where only a
small quantity of each kind of seed will be made use of, but
in large gardens it will be found as much a labor-saver as the
garden-cultivator.

It is always advisable to plant for a succession if the garden is
large enough to admit of it. By planting at intervals of ten days
or two weeks it is possible to have fresh vegetables throughout
almost the entire season. Where this is done it will not be
advisable to plant very much of any one kind.

Among almost all vegetables there are early, medium, and late
varieties. Some of each of these should be planted in all gardens
of a size to warrant so doing. In the small garden I would advise
the choice of the later varieties, as these are almost without
exception superior in flavor to the earlier kinds, which are grown
more on account of earliness than quality.



IV

SEEDS THAT GIVE BEST RESULTS


It is very important that seed of only the best kind should be
used, if we would grow vegetables of superior quality. Every
gardener of experience will indorse the truth of this statement.

Said one amateur gardener to me when I gave him this advice: "Why
should one be so particular about the seed? It's the culture
that you give the plant that counts. Plant any kind of seed that
happens to be handiest and take good care of the plants that grow
from it and you'll have good vegetables." To some extent what
he said was true, but he had yet to learn that there is a vast
difference between ordinary seed and seed that has bred into it
by careful culture the superior qualities which characterize the
choicest varieties of all our garden plants. There is such a
thing as aristocracy of seed, and no seed that is lacking in this
feature can be expected to afford the satisfaction that results
from the use of the best. No amount of culture can make a superior
vegetable from plants grown from inferior seed. Bear this in mind,
and buy only the best seed on the market, be your garden large or
small. The smaller it is, the greater the importance of using only
the best.

"But how are we who know very little about such things to know
which _is_ the best?" some one may ask.

The only answer I can make to this question is this: We have in
this country many seed firms that have been in existence for
years--some of them over half a century--and these have built up
for themselves a reputation for handling only seed of the very
best varieties of garden vegetables that it is possible to grow.
Inferior sorts have been discarded from time to time as those of
superior merit have been produced. These firms, proud and jealous
of the reputation they have gained, cannot afford to deal in
anything that is not up to their standard of "the best." From
these dealers you can be sure of getting seed that can always
be depended on to give the highest degree of satisfaction. The
seed they sell you may cost a little more than some of the newer
dealers ask for theirs, but the certainty of getting _what you
want_ makes it well worth while to invest some extra money in it.
Cheap seed--that which is advertised as being "just as good as
higher-priced seed for a much smaller amount of money"--is likely
to prove as cheap in quality as in price.



V

EARLY GARDEN WORK


After planting the garden there will be a little interval of
leisure while the seed that has been put into the ground is
germinating.

Then will come the time of early warfare with the weeds. Here
is where the weeding-hook of which I have spoken will come into
play in the small garden. This little implement is in the form of
a claw, with five or six fingers, each about an inch long, and
shaped so that they reach into the ground and take a firm hold of
whatever plants they are placed over. It can be so operated that
these fingers, working close to plants which it is not desired
to uproot, will tear away the weeds without disturbing the other
plants, and the soil will be left in light and mellow condition,
as if a tiny rake had been drawn through it. With this tool the
work can be done with great rapidity. No owner of a garden, large
or small, can afford to be without it.

It should be used to supplement the work of the cultivator, which
can be depended upon to take care of all the weeds between the
rows, but which cannot be worked among the plants _in the row_.

Weeding should be begun as soon as the plants are of a size that
makes it possible to tell which is seedling and which is weed.
By beginning the work of clearing the garden at this period, and
doing it thoroughly, and continuing it at intervals thereafter, it
will be a comparatively easy matter to keep weeds under control.
But if they are allowed to get a strong start--as they will in
an incredibly short time if let alone--it will be a difficult
matter to subdue them and keep the upper hand during the rest of
the season. It is very important that they should be given to
understand, at the outset, that they will not be tolerated in your
garden. This will necessitate early work and careful and regular
attention thereafter, but it will not be the laborious work that
so many persons think it is if it is begun at the right season and
always carried on on the offensive. It is when weeds have been
allowed to intrench themselves firmly in the garden that this
work becomes disagreeable.

Nor is it work that will require a good deal of one's time. In
the cultivation of a garden it is the little attentions, given
when needed, that count, rather than the amount of labor and time
expended there, as you will find when you come to have a garden of
your own.

If there are any vacant places in the beds or rows, fill with
plants taken from places where they stand too thick. In the small
garden there should be not one vacant spot. Every bit of soil
should be made to do its share of work in the production of some
vegetable.

If weeds are kept down during the early part of the season there
ought not to be many during the latter part of it. But there will
be no time when there will not be _some_ to wage warfare against,
and every gardener should make it a rule to destroy every one that
gets a start as soon as discovered, for, by preventing it from
developing seed, we can save ourselves a good deal of work next
season. One weed will bear seed enough to fill the whole garden
with its progeny if allowed to do so.

If the soil was properly fertilized at planting-time it will
not be necessary to apply more fertilizer, if any, until the
latter part of the season, and then only a small amount will
be required--just enough to enable the soil to do its share in
ripening off the plants that are growing in it. But if, at any
time, the plants seem to lag or come to a standstill enough should
be given to stimulate active growth.

Careful watch should be kept of everything in the garden, and
prompt advantage should be taken of any tendency toward slow
development by making fresh applications of whatever fertilizer
was used at the beginning of the season. In order to attain the
success that the gardener aims at in the cultivation of vegetables
it is absolutely necessary to keep them going steadily ahead from
start to finish, and this can only be done by supplying them with
a generous amount of plant-food. There should be no alternations
of liberal feeding and lack of feeding.



VI

VEGETABLE PLANTS IN THE HOUSE


Many persons would like to grow early vegetables. With a view to
"getting the start of the season" and, incidentally, of their
neighbors, they sow seed in pots and boxes in March and April
and attempt to get an "early start" for plants that will form a
basis of supply for family use while they are waiting for the
development of the general crop from seed sown in the garden
after the weather has become sufficiently warm to warrant outdoor
gardening. In some instances comparative success has resulted from
plants started into growth in the house, but nine times out of
ten, it is safe to say, the result has been entire failure. The
seedlings grow fairly well at first, but soon become weak and die.
If, by chance, a few survive until conditions warrant putting them
in the ground, they are so lacking in vitality that the change
from indoors to outdoors is pretty sure to be the end of them.

I would never advise trying to grow plants from seed, in the
house, unless the grower understands beforehand the drawbacks to
plant-growth which prevail in the average dwelling, and is willing
to do all he can to overcome them. Simply filling boxes or pots
with earth, putting seed into them, and supplying water will not
insure success.

One of the unfavorable conditions which seedling plants must
struggle against is too much heat, if they are kept in the
living-room. An undue amount of warmth forces them into abnormal
development in the early stages of their growth, and a little
later on there comes a reaction from the weakness thus brought
about, and this reaction is almost invariably death to the tender
plant.

Another unfavorable condition is the result of indiscriminate
watering. The soil is either kept too wet or too dry. To grow good
plants there must be an even supply of moisture.

A third unfortunate condition is the result of failure to give the
plants a liberal supply of fresh air.

It is possible, however, to overcome these conditions and grow
really good plants from seed in the living-room, but it cannot be
done unless the amateur gardener is sufficiently interested in the
undertaking to give his plants all the attention they need.

Instead of keeping them in the living-room--which in most
instances will have a temperature of 79 or 80°--I would advise
giving them place in a room opening off the sitting-room, where
the temperature can be so regulated that it will not go above 65°
at any time. There is far less danger of plants suffering from a
low temperature than of their being injured by an excess of heat.
If the room in which they are kept has snug windows, in most
instances it will get all the warmth that is needed by leaving
open at night the door which connects it with the living-room. If
the weather is very cold, the plants can be removed, temporarily,
to the living-room, or they can be covered with newspapers. Thick
paper shades at the windows will do much to keep out cold and
prevent draughts. Storm-sash will do this most effectively, but it
interferes with giving the young plants the fresh air they need.
Therefore I would prefer the shades, and depend upon removal to a
warmer place on extra-cold nights.

Fresh air will be found a most important factor in the growth of
seedling plants indoors. Unless it can be given it will be almost
impossible to grow any plant well in the ordinary dwelling. It
should be admitted to the room on every pleasant day by opening a
window at the top, or a door at some distance from the plants. The
fresh, cold air should be allowed to mix with the warm air in the
room before it comes in contact with the plants, as a chill will
often do about as much damage as a touch of frost.

Watering these plants is a matter of prime importance. Generally
water is applied carelessly and irregularly--too much to-day,
and none at all to-morrow. We saturate the soil with it while
only enough is required to make it moist. An over-supply of water
at the roots, combined with too much heat and lack of fresh
air, will undermine the constitution of any plant, because such
a combination excites unnatural development, and this means a
lowering of the vital force to the danger-point.

I have devised a method by which I have succeeded in controlling
the supply of moisture in the soil to my complete satisfaction.
I use boxes about four inches deep to start my plants in. In the
bottom of these boxes I put sphagnum moss. There should be at
least an inch of it after it has been pressed down by the weight
of the soil above. The bottom of the seed-box is bored full of
small holes. Each box sets in a shallow pan of galvanized iron, on
a layer of coarse gravel, which raises it enough to allow water
to circulate freely under it. Water is poured into the iron pan,
using enough to come up about half an inch above the bottom of
the seed-box, or in contact with the moss in it, and it should be
kept at this height at all times. The moss absorbs the moisture
like a sponge, and the soil above constantly sucks up all that is
needed to keep it in a sufficiently moist condition to meet the
requirements of the plants growing in it. The absorbent qualities
of the moss are such that an excessive amount of moisture is
never communicated to the soil above. Thus I secure a steady and
even supply, which does away entirely with the danger resulting
from the application of water to the surface of the soil from
watering-pot or basin.

If the temperature can be controlled in such a way that it will
not vary much from 60 to 65°, if the soil can be kept moist
but never wet, and fresh air can be given in generous quantity
regularly, it will be found a comparatively easy matter to grow
plants satisfactorily from seed in the house, and have them in
such healthy condition by the time it is safe to put them out in
the garden that they will average up well with the plants the
professional gardener raises in hotbed and cold-frame. By the use
of such plants, and such plants only, can we expect to grow early
vegetables successfully.



VII

STANDARD VARIETIES OF VEGETABLES


The amateur gardener will find it extremely perplexing work to
make a satisfactory selection of _varieties_ of vegetables to
grow in his garden. He knows quite well, as a general thing, what
_kinds_ he wants to grow, but when he comes to a consultation of
the seedsmen's catalogues he discovers that of each _kind_ of
vegetable listed therein there are so many _varieties_ mentioned
that he is bewildered. Most of them are described as being so
desirable that he cannot help getting the impression that if he
rules out this or that one he is likely to deprive himself of
the very thing from which he would obtain the highest degree of
satisfaction. Nine times out of ten he finds, after going through
the catalogues and marking the kinds and varieties that appeal to
him most forcibly, that he has a list which would furnish enough
seed to supply an average-sized market-garden.

I would advise the amateur gardener to attempt the culture of only
a few of the many varieties described in the catalogues, and these
of the very best. But what constitutes "the very best" is a hard
matter for him to decide where all are described by adjectives in
the superlative degree. He will find, by comparing the catalogues
of the various seed firms, that there are described in most
of them certain varieties of each kind of vegetable that seem
common to all, along with many other varieties whose names differ
greatly, though the descriptions of them indicate that there is
not much difference in quality, or in other general respects. If
he confines his selection to such varieties of each kind as the
various dealers list _under the same names_ in their catalogues he
will be making no mistake, for the fact that all leading dealers
carry these varieties in stock is sufficient proof that they are
standard varieties, and of such superior merit that no up-to-date
dealer can afford to exclude them from his list.

Take, for instance, Stowell's Evergreen sweet-corn, and Champion
of England pea. _All_ dealers handle these, because they _are_
standard, and always in demand because their superior qualities
have made them universal favorites wherever grown. But they
have other varieties of the same vegetable of which each makes a
specialty, under names which will be found in no catalogue but
their own. Many of these are doubtless possessors of all the good
qualities claimed for them, but this we cannot be sure about. But
the sorts which are common to all are those of whose merit there
can be no two opinions. These are the varieties the inexperienced
gardener can select with the assurance that he is getting the best
thing of its kind on the market.

In this chapter I propose to make mention of only such kinds of
vegetables as I have grown in my own garden. I do this because
so many beginners in gardening prefer to depend on the advice
of some one who has familiarized himself with the merits of the
various vegetables adapted to ordinary gardening. And I propose
to give with each such brief cultural directions as seem of most
importance, thus making it possible for the amateur to avoid some
of the mistakes that might be made if he were wholly ignorant
of the requirements of his plants. After having experimented
with many kinds I have pinned my faith to the kinds I shall make
mention of, and I have no hesitancy in recommending them to the
attention of all gardeners, feeling confident that a trial of them
will bear me out in the statement that no better list can be made.
There _may_ be others of equal or superior merit, but if there are
I have still to find out what they are.


_Asparagus_

Taking the list alphabetically, the first vegetable to consider is
asparagus. Conover's Colossal seems to combine all the merits of
the several varieties on the market in such a degree as to give it
a place at the head of the list of desirable kinds for ordinary
garden culture. It is tender, fine-flavored, and very productive.
A dozen plants, after becoming well established, will furnish all
that will be required by a family of four or five persons.

In order to secure good crops of this delicious vegetable it will
be necessary to dig up the soil in which it is to be planted
to the depth of two or three feet, and fill the bottom of the
excavation with strong manure. Pack this down firmly, and then
return to the trench the soil thrown out from it, fertilizing this
well as you do so. While asparagus will grow in a soil that is
not at all rich, and will live on indefinitely under all kinds
of neglect and abuse, it must be given plenty of strong food and
good care in order to enable it to do itself justice. I would
not advise attempting to grow it from seed, as it takes a long
time for seedling plants to reach maturity. I would get two- or
three-year-old plants. Set them about eighteen inches apart and
at least four inches below the surface. Keep weeds and grass away
from them. Give the asparagus-bed a place in the garden by itself,
preferably along a fence or in some location where it will not
interfere with other plants which call for the frequent use of
the garden-cultivator. On no account plant it in that part of the
garden where it will be necessary to use a plow, for it is a plant
that must be left undisturbed if you would have it do its best.
Cover the beds with coarse manure in the fall, and work this into
the soil about the plants in spring.


_Beans_

Mammoth Stringless Green Pod matures early, and is very tender,
fine-flavored, and productive. It is a general favorite for the
home garden.

Golden Wax is later than the green-podded variety mentioned
above. It is valuable as a string-bean, and for shelling.

Beans are quite tender, therefore they should not be planted until
the weather becomes warm and settled. Plant in rows two feet
apart, and about four inches apart in the row, or in hills of
three or four plants each. Cultivate frequently during the early
part of summer, throwing the soil toward the plants. Do not work
among them while they are wet from dew or rain.

If a pole-bean is wanted, Improved Lima will be found extremely
satisfactory because of its productiveness and its fine, buttery
flavor. This class supplies the table with shelled beans only, its
pods being too tough to use as a string-bean. Plant in hills of
six or eight, setting a pole six or seven feet tall in the center
of each hill for the plants to climb by.


_Beet_

I would advise two varieties of this vegetable where the garden
is large enough to warrant the use of more than one. Crosby's
Egyptian stands at the head of the list as an early variety. It is
remarkably tender, and has a sugary flavor that is most delicious.
As a second variety I would advise Crimson Globe. This is very
sweet and fine-flavored, and comes to perfection during the latter
part of summer. It is a good keeper, and a quantity of it should
be stored in the cellar for winter use.

Sow seeds in rows sixteen to eighteen inches apart. Sow thickly,
and use the surplus plants as greens while young and tender,
making use of both top and root. Thin to three or four inches
apart.


_Cabbage_

Unless the garden is of considerable size I would not advise
planting this vegetable, because it takes up so much room that
might better be given to other kinds which the housewife will find
more useful. The plants should stand at least two feet apart. Seed
can be put into the ground about the first of May, or plants can
be started in the hotbed if wanted for very early use. Seedlings
can be transplanted as soon as they have made their second leaf.

For a very early variety I would advise Jersey Wakefield. For late
use Late Drumhead or Stone Mason Marblehead--both excellent in all
respects, and fine for winter use.

Care must be taken to prevent insects from injuring the plants
during the various stages of their development. Spray with
an infusion of the tobacco extract known as Nicoticide. This
will effectually prevent the pests from doing harm if applied
thoroughly and frequently.

If cabbage is to be wintered in the cellar, it must be kept
cool and dry. Some prefer to bury the heads in trenches, in dry
locations in the garden. The trench should be about two feet deep.
Spread straw in the bottom of it, and place the cabbage on it,
head down, with the large leaves folded well together. Then cover
with three or four inches of hay, and bank up with soil. Put a
board over this to shed rain. The cabbage will freeze, but if left
in the ground until the frost is gradually extracted from it it
will be found crisp and brittle, and much more satisfactory for
table use than that which is wintered in the cellar. Care must be
taken to exclude rain. If water gets to it it will be ruined. It
is a good plan to cover the trench with oilcloth or tarred paper,
both being waterproof.


_Cauliflower_

This is a favorite vegetable when well grown and properly cared
for. It requires a rich soil, a location well exposed to the
sun, and frequent applications of water if the season happens to
be a dry one. Cultivate as you would cabbage. For early use the
plants should be started in the hotbed, and transplanted to the
cold-frame as soon as they have made their third leaves. Put into
the open ground as soon as the soil is in good working condition.
Set the plants about two feet apart. When heads have formed they
should be bleached by drawing the large leaves together and tying
them with strips of soft cloth.

For a late crop, to mature during the pickling season, start
plants in open ground in May.

The best early variety is Dwarf Erfurt. Autumn Giant is an
excellent late variety.


_Carrot_

This plant likes a deep, warm, sandy soil. Early Short Horn
matures by midsummer. It is rich and sweet in flavor. Red
Intermediate is a later variety, excellent for fall and winter
use. Comparatively few persons give this plant a place in their
gardens, but it richly deserves a place there because of its value
as an article of food, as well as because of its health-giving
qualities. It adds greatly to the variety of the bill of fare, and
where it appears frequently on the table a liking for it is soon
developed, and thereafter it becomes a standard vegetable in the
housewife's list of "must-haves." It adds a delightful flavor to
vegetable soups.


_Celery_

The seed of early celery should be sown in the hotbed. Transplant
the seedlings to the cold-frame and allow them to remain there
until May. Then set in the richest soil at your disposal, six
inches apart in the row. Blanch by setting up boards a foot or
more in width each side the row, allowing an opening about three
inches wide at the top through which the plants can get a little
light. For late and winter use, sow the seeds in open ground in
May. Bleach by earthing up gradually, as the stalks develop,
until you have the plants buried to within a few inches of the
tip of their leaves. Use clean, dry soil in banking the plants.
Sawdust is good, but care must be taken to make use of a kind that
does not have a strong odor. Pine-dust will give the plants a
disagreeable flavor.

For winter use, take up plants, root and all, and pack close
together in boxes and store in a cool, dark cellar.

White Plume is the best early variety. Giant Pascal is probably
the most satisfactory winter variety, but Winter Queen is a
favorite with many. Both are so tender and have such a rich, nutty
flavor that it is not an easy matter to decide between them.


_Cucumber_

For very early cucumbers plant the seed in the hotbed in March
or April, but do not put the plants into the garden until all
danger of frost is over. This plant requires a rich and mellow
soil. It should be set in hills at least four feet apart. It is
a good plan to start the seed in pieces of sod placed grass-side
down. This enables one to move them from the hotbed without any
disturbance of their roots. The cucumber- or squash-beetle often
destroys the plants when they are put in the open ground if close
watch is not taken and prompt effort made to rout the enemy. Spray
with Nicoticide infusion, taking pains to have it reach the under
side of the leaves. Dry road-dust sifted thickly over the plants
is often found quite effective, but because of the inability to
apply it to the under side of the leaves the liquid insecticide
will be found more effective.

Improved Early White Spine is a favorite with all who like a
crisp, tender-meated, finely flavored cucumber. Ever-bearing is an
excellent sort for pickling as well as for use on the table during
the fall, as it continues to bear until frost kills the vines.


_Corn_

Sweet-corn is one of the most delicious of all garden vegetables,
and every garden that is large enough to admit of its culture
should give place to two or three varieties of it. Because of
its tall growth and the distance required between rows it is
not adapted to culture in the very small garden, though I would
willingly go without some of the other vegetables generally grown
there in order to give place to a few hills of it.

Golden Bantam produces ears only four or five inches in length,
but what they lack in size they make up for in tenderness and
sweetness.

Country Gentleman is a medium variety, very tender, sweet, and
juicy.

But the ideal sweet-corn is Stowell's Evergreen. No other variety
equals it in tenderness, sugary sweetness, and rich flavor. It
does not come to maturity until quite late in the season, but it
remains in excellent eating-condition until the plant is killed by
frost.

Do not plant until the weather and the ground are warm--generally
about May 10th at the extreme North. Sweet-corn seed often decays
if put into the ground as early as field-corn. Have the soil
rich and mellow, and cultivate frequently and thoroughly. If a
dry spell comes along make use of the cultivator daily until the
drought is broken.


_Endive_

This plant ought to be grown far more extensively than it is
because it is one of the best salad plants we have for fall and
winter use. Some should be sown in April for use during the
summer, and some in July, for late use. When the plants are two or
three inches high transplant to rich soil, setting them about ten
inches apart. When nearly full-grown, gather the leaves together
and tie them with strips of cloth, thus excluding the light from
the central part of the bunch. It must be blanched before it is
fit for table use. This part of the work must be done while the
plants are perfectly dry. If done when they are wet or even moist,
they will be quite sure to rot.


_Lettuce_

This plant should be started in the hotbed if there is one. The
seedlings should be transferred to the cold-frame before they have
attained much size, and left there until the ground becomes warm.
Very fine lettuce, however, can be grown from seed sown directly
in the open ground about the first of May, if the soil is warm
and rich. A fertile soil is quite important, as it is necessary
to bring on a rapid growth in order to have the plant crisp and
tender. Slow development gives a comparatively worthless article.

The All Heart variety is excellent for spring and early summer
use. It forms a solid head, and is very crisp and tender, with
that rich, buttery flavor that the lover of this plant insists on.
Mammoth Salamander is one of the best late-season kinds.


_Melons_

These, like corn and cabbage, are not adapted to culture in
the small garden because they require more room than it is
possible to give them without giving up other vegetables which
the housewife cannot well afford to go without. But in good-sized
gardens I would advise their culture, because there is nothing
else quite equal to them in delicacy of flavor and luscious
sweetness. They require a light, rich soil. Plant when the ground
is warm, and not before, in hills four feet apart. It is a good
plan to put a generous quantity of manure from the henhouse in
each hill, working it well into the soil before seed is planted.
Put at least a dozen seed in each hill, for some of the seedlings
will doubtless be destroyed by the beetle that works on cucumber-
and squash-vines. Spray all over with Nicoticide infusion as soon
as the first beetle is seen, also shower with dry road-dust. If a
fungous disease attacks them spray with Bordeaux mixture.

Rocky Ford is the standard variety of muskmelon at present. It has
a thick greenish-yellow flesh, is smooth-grained, is very sweet,
has a most delicious flavor, and is so tender that it fairly seems
to melt in the mouth. Netted Gem is another standard variety.

Among the watermelons Ice-Cream is a general favorite. Mammoth
Ironclad grows to a very large size, is solid-meated, and has a
peculiarly sweet and luscious flavor.


_Onion_

This should be sown in light, sandy soil, if possible, as it
seldom does well in a heavy soil.

Yellow Danvers is the leading variety for the home garden.
Silverskin has a mild flavor, and on that account it is a favorite
with many. It is fine for pickling. It also keeps well in winter.


_Parsley_

Sow this plant thickly, in April, in rows of mellow soil. As the
seed germinates very slowly, it is well to soak it in warm water
before sowing. If you have a light cellar, plants can be potted
in fall and stored there for winter use. The cellar window is a
good place for them. Every housewife who prides herself on the
attractive appearance of her roasts and other meat dishes and many
kinds of salad will not be willing to be without this plant. Dwarf
Perpetual is the standard variety for the home garden. Its leaves
are charmingly crimped and curly, and of beautiful dark green
that makes them very ornamental when used as a garnish for the
table.


_Parsnip_

This vegetable is not grown as much as it ought to be. One
does not care for it until winter sets in. Then it affords a
much-appreciated change from other vegetables. It is an excellent
keeper when stored in the cellar in winter. Or the roots can
be left in the ground until spring, when they will be found
delightfully fresh and tender. Sow in April or May, in deep, rich
soil. Hollow Crown is the standard variety.


_Pea_

This vegetable is so extremely hardy that it can be planted with
entire safety quite early in spring. There are varieties that come
into bearing a few weeks after sowing, followed by medium early
kinds, which give place, a little later, to such varieties as
Champion of England and Telephone. Champion of England is the most
delicious of all peas.

Unless the garden is a very small one, one should plan for a
succession. If this is done it will be possible to enjoy this
vegetable during the greater part of the season, with possibly
the exception of the very hottest part of summer. Best results are
secured by planting the seed two or three inches deep in furrows.
The soil should be rich. If there is a little clay in it, all the
better.

Low-growing varieties require no support, but the tall kinds must
be bushed or trained on coarse-meshed wire netting. Bushes suit
this plant better than anything else. If the vines are allowed
to crinkle down and come in contact with the ground their pods
will almost always decay, and the vines will mildew and become so
diseased that an end will be put to their bearing.

American Wonder is one of the best very early kinds. Gradus is
next in order. Advancer I consider the best medium variety.
Telephone is a most excellent late variety, second only to
Champion of England, which is everywhere conceded to be the ideal
pea so far as productiveness, size, rich flavor, and sweetness are
concerned.


_Potato_

Anybody can grow the potato, _after a fashion_. But in order to
grow it _well_ it must receive more attention than is generally
given it. It must have a rich and mellow soil--a sandy one is
preferable--and the best of cultivation.

This is one of the vegetables that require considerable room,
therefore it is not adapted to small-garden culture. But when
space will admit of it it should always be grown, because it is
one of the garden products that can be used in so many ways that
the housewife finds it one of the things she cannot well get along
without.

Seed is obtained by cutting old potatoes in pieces, each piece
having an "eye" or growing-point. The pieces should be planted in
hills, four or five pieces to a hill, with hills two feet apart.
Cover to a depth of four inches.

If plants are not watched while small, insects are likely to
attack them. Spray with Nicoticide infusion. Later in the
season the Colorado beetle will be quite likely to put in its
appearance. Then use Paris green, either in infusion, or mixed
with land-plaster, and applied in a dry state while the plants
are moist from dew. If any fungous disease is discovered, spray
with Bordeaux mixture. All these insecticides can be procured
from druggists or dealers in agricultural goods, or they can be
obtained from the dealer from whom you buy seed.

It is well to plant this vegetable for a succession. One of the
best early varieties is Beauty of Hebron, which matures in eight
to ten weeks from planting. Early Rose is everywhere a favorite,
as is Early Ohio. Rural New-Yorker is a standard late variety.
Burbank's Seedling is excellent as an intermediate sort. All the
varieties named are of superior flavor, very productive, and sure
to give complete satisfaction.


_Radish_

This most toothsome vegetable should be sown early, either in the
hotbed or the open ground. If you have a light, warm soil and a
location that is fully exposed to the sun you can raise almost as
fine radishes outside of the hotbed as in it, though of course
not as early in the season. A crop will develop in five or six
weeks from sowing. Plant at intervals of two or three weeks for a
succession. Cardinal Globe is the standard early variety. Crimson
Giant is a little later. Both have that crisp, tender, and juicy
quality which makes the radish so universal a favorite. Icicle is
a long-growing white variety, very crisp and brittle. This has the
merit of remaining in condition for use longer than any other
variety.


_Rhubarb_

This plant likes a deep, rich, and rather moist soil. It should
be planted in permanent beds, about three feet apart. I would not
advise attempting to grow it from seed. Get roots one or two years
old. Victoria is a standard variety.


_Salsify_

A vegetable that ought to be grown a great deal more than it is.
Its popular name of "vegetable oyster" is not a misnomer, for
it has a distinct oyster flavor. Many persons prefer it to the
bivalve, when it is cooked properly. Being hardy, it can be left
in the ground over winter, or it can be dug and stored in the
cellar along with parsnips and carrots for use in winter. Sow
early.


_Squash_

Probably the best variety of summer squash for home use is Giant
Crook Neck. For winter use the Hubbard stands at the head of the
list. These favorite vegetables require a rich soil. They should
be planted in hills about three feet apart. Have the soil rich.
Keep watch of them, for they are liable to attacks from beetles.
It is well to sprinkle a handful of tobacco-dust about the young
plants. As they become larger they can be sprayed with the
Nicoticide infusion heretofore spoken of.


_Spinach_

Desirable for "greens." Sow as early in the spring as the ground
is in good working condition. Have the soil quite rich to force a
tender, succulent growth. Sow for succession, a month apart. The
Long-Season variety is the best I have any knowledge of.


_Tomato_

Start this plant in the hotbed if you have one. If not, sow in the
open ground as soon as it has become warm. To secure a very early
crop the plants must be started as early as March. When three or
four inches high transplant from hotbed to cold-frame, but do not
put into the open ground until all danger from frost is over.
If you are without hotbed facilities I would advise purchasing
plants from the gardener, who tries to supply his customers with
strong and healthy plants very early in the season. Plants from
seed sown in the open ground will be so late in ripening a crop,
as a general thing, that they will not afford satisfaction.
Standard varieties are Stone, very solid and firm-fleshed and of
fine quality, and Ponderosa, very large, fine-flavored, and almost
seedless.



VIII

SMALL FRUITS AND THEIR CULTURE


Quite as important as garden vegetables is the small-fruit
department of each home that is living up to its privileges. Of
course there will be no room for raspberries and blackberries on
the little home lot, but one can have a row of strawberries there,
in almost all cases, and a few currant-bushes can be tucked away
in nooks and corners where quite likely nothing else would be
grown if the tiny space were not given up to them.

There are places all over the country where a collection of small
fruit ought to be grown, but which are without it. Why?

There are several answers to the question. One is: Neglect to live
up to the possibilities of the place because of carelessness, or
possibly because the owner is distrustful of his ability to grow
them successfully. Another is: The impression that these plants
are so exacting in their demands that none but skilled gardeners
are warranted in undertaking their culture. And a third one is:
The uncertainty of being unable to take them through our severe
Northern winters safely.

The first objection is met with the argument that the man who is
obliged to work for a living, and has a family to support, has no
excuse for neglecting to avail himself and those dependent on him
of all the good things that can be grown from the plants named,
if he owns a piece of ground large enough to accommodate a small
collection. The second objection is not justified, because it is
an easy matter for any man to learn how to care for small fruits
if he sets about it with the intention of mastering its details.
There is really no basis in fact for the third one, for we have,
to-day, varieties of each kind of small fruit that are entirely
hardy at the North if properly cared for in the fall.

There should be a strawberry-bed, large or small, in every garden,
if I had my way about it.

Here I suppose some reader will meet me with the objection that
"strawberries don't pay. They require too much care, and the beds
soon run out, and then everything has to be done over again."

Now I claim that strawberries _do_ pay if they get the right kind
of treatment. No one has a right to expect much from them if he
simply sticks a plant into the soil and leaves it to take care of
itself thereafter. Strawberries cultivated in this manner _don't_
pay, I admit. And it is well that they do not, for no one has a
right to expect much, if anything, from a plant of any kind that
he isn't willing to take good care of. While the strawberry will
not take care of itself, it really requires no more attention
than most other crops. And as to "running out," that cuts no
figure, when you come to think about it, because "doing things
all over again" amounts to no more than planting vegetables each
season. This has to be done yearly, and strawberries will demand
only annual attention, thus putting the two classes of plants on
practically the same basis.

I am aware that some writers on strawberry culture have ventilated
a good many far-fetched ideas of their own in print relative to
the culture of this plant, and so elaborate and complicated are
some of these theories that many an amateur has, after reading
them, abandoned the idea of having a strawberry-bed. But it is a
fact susceptible of proof by any man who gives it a trial that
strawberry culture may be made a success without adopting the
views of persons who seem to think that theory is more important
than common sense.

The simplest method of strawberry-growing that I know anything
about is what is called the "one-crop system."

Set the plants in rows three feet apart, to allow the use of the
cultivator between them. Let the plants be a foot apart in the
row. Keep the ground between the rows well cultivated, and in the
second summer, when the plants are bearing their first crop of
fruit, allow them to send their runners into the space between
the rows and take root there. When these young plants have fully
established themselves--which will be by the end of August, as
a general thing--take a spade and cut down between them and the
old plants. Then dig up the old plants, making the place where
they grew a space between rows. Next season train runners from
the bearing plants back into the old row. By thus alternating
the location of the plants you keep the garden supplied with
one-year-old ones from which you get but one crop of fruit. This
method is so simple that any one can understand it, and it has
the indorsement of some of our most up-to-date gardeners who
recognize the fact that one full crop of berries is about all
that can be expected from the strawberry. Of course older plants
will bear fruit, but never of the quantity and quality which is
obtained from strong, healthy young plants whose vitality has not
been drawn upon by the production of a heavy first crop.

This one-crop system makes it possible to grow fine berries
without giving the plants more care than is required by ordinary
vegetables.

The soil for strawberries should be rich and mellow, and should be
kept entirely free from weeds.

It is a good plan to spread clean straw between the rows before
the crop ripens, to keep the fruit from coming in contact with the
ground or having sand washed upon it by heavy rains.

The best variety of strawberry that I have ever grown is
Brandywine. It is very productive, bears large berries, has a
most delicious flavor, and is never hollow-hearted. It ripens in
mid-season.

The best late variety, allowing me to be judge, is Gandy. This
kind requires a very rich soil. Where it can be given this, no
more satisfactory late-cropper can be grown. The two varieties
named above combine all the best qualities of this most popular
fruit.

Several times in the last few years the announcement has been made
that a fall-bearing strawberry has been produced, but as it was
of European origin it did not prove satisfactory under American
conditions. Of late, however, some of our most progressive
small-fruit growers have succeeded in growing two varieties that
promise to be really good fall-croppers. These produce, if allowed
to do so, their main crop at the same time as other varieties,
and keep on bearing until frost. But in order to secure a good
crop late in the season it is advisable to cut away all buds that
appear in June, keeping the strength of the plant in reserve for
the fall crop. It is well to mulch these plants during the hot,
dry weather of summer. These fall-bearing varieties are on the
market under the names of Superb and Progressive.

      *       *       *       *       *

The blackberry responds generously to good treatment, bearing
enormous quantities of large, juicy berries of most delicious
flavor when given proper care.

It prefers a rather sandy soil.

In order to secure a fresh stock of wood for each season's crop
the old canes should be cut away as soon as they have ripened
their fruit, thus throwing all the strength of the plant into the
production of new canes from which fruit is to be expected next
season.

While the two leading varieties, Kittatinny and Snyder, are quite
hardy, it is well to take the precaution of giving them some
protection to guard against the possible loss of some of the
unripened growth of the season. This is done to the best advantage
by removing two or three spadefuls of soil from the base of each
plant, close to its roots, and then tipping the bush over until it
lies flat on the ground. This could not be done without running
the risk of breaking some of the stiff and brittle canes if the
excavation were not made. When the bushes are spread out on the
ground, where they are held in place by laying boards across them,
throw some coarse litter over the base of the plant, and scatter a
covering of straw over the branches. As soon as the frost is out
of the ground in the spring, lift the bushes and replace the soil
that was taken away in the fall.

      *       *       *       *       *

Raspberries are second only to strawberries in deliciousness of
flavor, and should have a place in all gardens where there is room
for them. They do well in almost all soils, if well drained. A
sandy loam, however, is the soil that seems to suit them best.
Their old canes, like those of the blackberry, should be cut away
at the end of the fruiting season.

Cuthbert is the leading red variety. Cumberland is the favorite
black kind.

I notice that one of our most prominent growers of small fruit
offers an ever-bearing raspberry this season, under the name of
Red Ranere. I have no knowledge of its merits other than that
which I gain from the grower's announcement in introducing this
sort to the market, but from intimate personal acquaintance with
the man I am quite confident that the plant must possess real
merit, for he is not a person given to exaggeration. I quote from
what he has to say in reference to this variety in a leading
horticultural magazine:

 This is not only the earliest red raspberry, but it is a perpetual
 fruiting one. Its main crop is greater than that of any other
 variety I grow. It continues to bear on its old canes until late
 in August, at about which time the canes of the season's growth
 come into bearing. These produce a large amount of fine fruit
 until late in the fall. The berries are very attractive, being a
 bright, rich crimson. They are of good size, and of very superior
 quality, with a rich, sugary, full raspberry flavor.

I would advise the amateur gardener to give this variety a trial.
Raspberries late in the fall would be thoroughly appreciated by
those with whom this fruit is a favorite.

       *       *       *       *       *

The currant is one of the garden's indispensables. It furnishes
us with fruit of just the right degree of tart acidity to fit the
season in which it is at its prime, and who does not get a deal of
enjoyment out of a green-currant pie?

No kind of small fruit is easier to grow successfully. Worms
frequently attack the bushes in spring, and often ruin the crop
unless steps are taken to put a prompt end to their depredations,
but spraying with Nicoticide infusion will rout them in most cases.
Application of this insecticide should be repeated at intervals
during the earlier part of the season.

Fay's Prolific is a standard variety for home use. This is a dark,
rich red, most beautiful to behold. White Grape is an ideal white
variety. Combine the two and you have a table decoration quite as
colorful as that furnished by any flowers, and almost as attractive.

The currant is one of the housewife's most valued fruits for jam-
and jelly-making. One enterprising dealer has recently introduced
to this country a French sort known as Bar-le-Duc, or Preserving
Currant. This variety has a flavor that no other variety can lay
claim to, and another feature of merit peculiar to it is that it
is almost seedless. For a good many years the entire output of
this currant was under the control of a French fruit company who
manufactured it into jam which has been extensively sold in this
country under the name of Confiture Bar-le-Duc. So superior has
it been considered to home-made as well as imported jams, that it
has readily sold at double the price of them. I would advise the
amateur to procure a few plants of this variety and experiment with
it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gooseberry must not be overlooked in this connection. Many
persons claim that the bush mildews to such an extent that the crop
is oftener than not a failure. This can largely be prevented by
planting the bushes farther apart than the currant, and thinning
out the branches so that there will at all times be a free
circulation of air about them. It is well to give a heavy mulch of
coarse manure in the hot weather of summer. Spray with the infusion
recommended for currants to prevent injury from worms. If mildew
of an apparently fungous nature attacks the plants, spray with
Bordeaux mixture.

       *       *       *       *       *

This hardly seems the place in which to say much about the culture
of the apple, plum, pear, and cherry, for that is a phase of
gardening quite distinct from that which this little book aims to
interest the homemaker in. However, the writer would urge having
all these fruits when conditions are favorable to their culture.
The more fruit we eat the healthier we will be.

All kinds of small fruit can be planted in spring to better
advantage than in fall, though the nurseryman will tell you, if
you consult him, that it makes little difference whether you plant
in spring or fall. The writer has tried both methods, and he has
always been most successful when plants were put out in April
and May, provided they were sent from the nursery that spring.
If they are sent in fall they should be "heeled-in" over winter.
"Heeling-in" consists in burying the roots in a place where they
will be kept dry during the winter. It will not be necessary to
cover all the top, though there is no objection to this if the
owner thinks it safer to do so. Care should be taken to keep
the plants well protected from storms. This can be done very
effectively by spreading tarred paper over them, pains being taken
to weight it down with stones or something else equally heavy to
prevent its being blown out of place.

Plants that have been "heeled-in" over winter should be set out as
soon as possible in spring.



IX

HOTBEDS AND COLD-FRAMES


In order to have vegetables early in the season it will be
necessary to give them a start some weeks before the ground is in
proper condition for the reception of seed. Sometimes this is done
by sowing the seed in pots and boxes in the living-room, as advised
in Chapter VI, but here conditions are not very favorable to
healthy growth, unless great care is taken to follow the directions
given in the chapter mentioned, and even then success does not
always attend our efforts.

In order to give our plants the early start that they must have if
we want vegetables at a time when most gardeners are getting the
garden ready for planting, we must make use of the hotbed. If this
is done we can gain from six weeks to two months in time, and have
lettuce and radishes before our neighbors who are without hotbed
facilities consider it safe to put seed into the ground.

At the North the first of March is quite early enough to get the
hotbed under way.

I am aware that many young gardeners have the impression that
a hotbed is, in some respects, a mysterious thing, and because
of this they do not undertake to make one. Now there is nothing
simpler than a hotbed when you come to a study of it. It is simply
making a place in which summer conditions can be imitated by
supplying it with steady, gentle heat, and in confining this heat
within an inclosure. The heat is generated by the use of material
which ferments, and the inclosure is nothing but a combination of
boards and glass so arranged that the temperature inside it can be
regulated to suit the requirements of the plants you undertake to
grow in it.

The heat-generating material is generally fresh manure from the
horse-stable, or a mixture of that and coarse litter.

Because the heat from rapid fermentation is quite intense, at first
the material from which it is obtained should be prepared before
the hotbed is brought into use. A quantity of it should be spread
on the site selected for the hotbed--which should be one that is
high and dry--covering a space larger than the hotbed frame is to
be. Spread it in layers four or five inches deep, tramping each
layer down well. When there is a foot and a half of it, cover it
with something that will shed rain, and wait for fermentation to
take place. A warm moisture will rise from it like steam. After two
or three days fork the material over, and remove all straw, and
make another heap similar to the first one, taking great pains to
have it firm and compact. It is very important that it should have
considerable solidity, as a heap of loose litter will never give
satisfactory results. There should be at least a foot and a half of
this heat-generating material.

While waiting for fermentation to take place in the manure-pile,
prepare the frame for your hotbed.

Let it be about a foot and a half in depth at the back, and eight
or ten inches deep in front, with sides that slope from the wider
boards to the narrower ones. Cover it with glass set in sash. If
possible have the sash hinged to the back-board, so that it can be
lifted for ventilation without removing it.

The best location for a hotbed is one facing the south, that
all possible advantage can be taken of sunshine, and against a
building or fence that will protect it on the north from cold
winds. Some persons prefer to make an excavation a foot or more
in depth for the reception of the heating material, but this is
not a matter of much importance. As a general thing it will not be
possible to do this in a satisfactory manner while there is frost
in the ground, as there will be at the North until after the first
of March.

When the first stages of fermentation are over, set the hotbed
frame in place, and fill in with five or six inches of very fine,
rich soil. This is what your seed is to be planted in.

The young gardener will be surprised at the amount of heat
contained in an inclosure like the one described. It will be very
similar to the weather conditions of early or middle May out of
doors. In it plants will grow healthily and vigorously, provided
they are given plenty of fresh air. This is a matter of the
greatest importance. Unless your seedlings are aired daily, if
the weather is pleasant, they will make a rapid but weak growth,
and when the time comes to put them in the cold-frame or the open
ground--provided they are alive then--they will be so lacking in
vitality that the change will be pretty sure to put an end to them.
On every sunny or warm day the sash should be lifted an inch or
two, about ten o'clock, and left in that condition until about two.
Care must be taken, however, to see that the wind does not blow
from a quarter that will drive the cold air in upon the plants. The
admission of a cold blast will often be fatal to the tender plants.

Great caution must be exercised in regard to ventilation. The aim
should be, at all times, to admit pure, fresh air without allowing
cold to enter with it. This may seem a somewhat paradoxical
statement, for at first thought it will seem impossible for air
from without to come in without taking along with it the cold
air which is in circulation outside, but when one takes into
consideration the fact that the warm air inside the hotbed meets
the air from out of doors at the point of entrance it will be
understood that it repels or counteracts it to an extent that makes
it safe to open the sash slightly when the outside temperature is
nearly down to freezing-point. The hotbed-owner must study existing
conditions and be governed accordingly. It is impossible to lay
down any hard-and-fast rules to apply in this case.

On cold nights the hotbed sash should be covered with blankets or
old carpeting to prevent the formation of frost on the glass. If
you find, in the morning, that the glass is covered with moisture
on its under side, raise the sash a trifle and leave it so until
the moisture clears away.

If at any time you have reason to think that the warmth inside
the frame is decreasing too rapidly, bank up about it with fresh
fermenting material.

After constructing the hotbed and putting the frame and sash in
place, test the heat inside by an accurate thermometer before
venturing to sow any seed. When it registers 85° or 90° the bed is
ready for seeding.

In making the frame for a hotbed care should be taken to see that
all joints fit snugly. A great deal of cold can be admitted through
a very small crevice. A few cracks will let out the heat faster
than it is generated, therefore see to it that in constructing the
frame a good piece of work is done.

Some persons tell me that they always bank up a hotbed with earth.
This enables it to retain the heat better than it is possible for
it to do without banking.

A hotbed will be of no particular benefit unless supplemented by
a cold-frame. This is simply a snug inclosure of boards covered
with glass, into which plants from the hotbed are to be set for
the purpose of hardening them off before they are put into the
open ground. In other words, it is a hotbed without heat. The
temperature in it ought to register from 60° to 65°. Raise the sash
an inch or two on sunny days before the rays of the sun striking on
the glass raise the temperature inside to a degree too intense for
the good of your plants.

It will be readily understood from what I have said above that in
order to attain success in the management of a hotbed great care
will have to be exercised at all times and frequent attention
given. It is not a self-regulating thing by any means. You will
have to consider the weather, the time of day when ventilation
should be given, frequency of watering, and other matters which
cannot be touched on here because of a more or less local character.

Plants in the hotbed should be watered cautiously. An over-supply
will often cause the seedlings to "damp off," and a lack of
sufficient moisture at the roots will speedily result in injury, if
not death. Whenever water is applied, use a sprinkler that throws a
fine spray. If thrown on the soil in a stream the water will often
wash the smaller plants out of place. It may puzzle one to tell
when _just enough_ has been given. This is best determined by an
examination of the soil. If moderately moist there is plenty of
moisture below.



X

SMALL GARDENS


Many persons who would like to grow flowers and vegetables do not
attempt to grow any because they do not consider that they have a
place large enough to justify them in doing so.

Here is where they make a mistake. A garden need not be a large one
to be enjoyable. A few plants are better than none. It is possible
to make a bit of garden more satisfactory than a large one because
it will be more likely to get more attention than would be given to
the larger one, and attention is one of the important features of
any successful garden.

There will, in the majority of cases, be little nooks and corners
here and there about the home grounds in which some plants can be
grown by those disposed to make the most of existing conditions.
These, if not improved, will be pretty sure to be given over
to weeds, or to the accumulation of rubbish of one kind or
another, and they will detract from the tidy and clean appearance
which should characterize the home everywhere. If the owners
of these bits of ground--these possibilities for adding to the
attractiveness of home--could be made to realize the amount of
pleasure they could be made to afford with very little exertion on
their part, the general work of civic improvement societies would
be most beneficial, and this would be done at the very place where
civic improvement ought to start--the home. There can be no real
and lasting improvement in civic undertaking unless the individual
home takes up the matter. The civic improvement society that starts
out with the idea of improving things generally, but does not begin
the good work _at the home_ is working on the idea of making clean
the outside of the cup and ignoring the condition inside it. Just
as the home is the foundation of society, so must it be made the
pivotal point at which any substantial and lasting improvement
finds its beginning.

Because the scattered places about the small home in which few
plants could be grown will not admit of bed-making, or the
"designs" which many persons seem to think indispensable in
gardening, is no good reason why we should not take advantage
of and make the most of them. If one lives in a community where
there are German families he will be surprised at the amount of
vegetables they grow in each home-lot. Not an inch of soil is
allowed to go to waste. A large amount of the food of the family is
grown in places which most Americans would overlook, simply because
of the prevailing idea that unless one can do things on a large
scale it is not worth while to attempt doing anything. The German
has been brought up to not "despise the day of small things," and
he profits by the advice. As we might, if we would, and, I am glad
to say, as more and more are profiting by year by year as they
become aware of the fact that much can be done where conditions are
limited.

I would not advise much mixing of varieties. On the contrary, I
would prefer to give over each little piece of ground to one plant.
Those of low habit I would have near the path, giving the places
back of them to taller-growing kinds. Of course, in the majority of
small homes, there is not much chance for exercising a choice in
the location of one's flowering or vegetable plants; still, it is
well to study the possibilities for general effect, and do all that
can be done to secure pleasing results. Where plants that grow to a
height of three feet are grown, the best place for them is at the
rear, or along the boundary of the lot, where they will serve as a
background for plants of lower habit.

Children should be encouraged to take an interest in the
cultivation of small gardens. They will do this if the parents are
willing to help them a little at the start. Show them how to spade
up the soil in spring, and how to work it over and over until it is
fine and mellow. They will make play of this part of garden work,
as it is as natural for a child to dig in the dirt as it is for a
pig to wallow in a mud-puddle. Add some kind of fertilizer to the
soil, and explain to the boys and girls that it is food for the
plants that are to be. Show them how to sow seed, and tell them all
you can about the processes of germination, and encourage them to
watch for the appearance of the seedlings. In a short time you will
have aroused in them such interest in the work they have undertaken
that it will be as fascinating to them as a story, and nature will
take delight in writing it out for them in daily instalments that
constantly increase in interest. The ability to know plants and
how to grow them ought to be a part of every child's education.

Don't let a bit of ground go to waste. Have flowers and vegetables,
even if there isn't room for more than half a dozen plants--or only
_one_ plant for that matter, for that one solitary plant will be a
great deal better than none at all.



XI

LEFT-OVERS


There are more ways than one to secure fertilizers and fine soil
for the small garden. If sward is cut from the roadside, chopped
into small pieces, and stored away in some corner of the yard that
is convenient to get at, and the soapsuds from wash-day are poured
over it each week, it will, in a short time, if stirred frequently,
become a most excellent substitute for leaf-mold. The grassroots,
when decayed, will become a vegetable fertilizer which will be
found extremely valuable in the culture of such plants as require a
light, rich soil, especially when small.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some quite artistic effects can be secured in the vegetable-garden
by the exercise of a little thought. The large-leaved beet has
foliage of a dark, rich crimson quite as ornamental as that of
many plants used by gardeners to produce the "tropical effects"
which many persons admire. When planted in the background, with
fine-foliaged plants like carrot or parsley in front of it, the
effect will be extremely pleasing because of the contrast of color,
and also of habit. The red pepper, planted where it can show its
brilliantly colored fruit against the green of some plant, will
give a bit of brightness that will not fail to be appreciated by
those who have a keen eye for color-harmony. It is well to plan for
these touches of the artistic, even in the vegetable garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tomatoes are often grown on racks and trellises. Where this is done
there will be no danger of the fruit's decaying, as is often the
case when the plants are given no support and their branches come
in contact with the ground.

It is a good idea to scatter clean, dry straw under the plants
after they begin to set fruit.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is also a good plan to pinch off the ends of some of the
tomato-vines after the first liberal setting of fruit. This throws
the strength of the plant into the development of the fruit that
has set, instead of into the production of new branches which are
not needed. It also hastens the maturity of it. If the tomato is
allowed to do so it will keep on growing and blooming and setting
fruit throughout the entire season, and as a natural consequence
much of it will be immature when frost comes. It is well to prevent
this wasting of the plant's forces by shortening the main branches
of it in August and September.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the chapter devoted to the mention of the best varieties of
vegetables to plant, I neglected to say a good word for sage and
summer savory, both of which the housewife will find very useful in
seasoning soups, sausage, and other articles of food. If cut when
in their prime and hung in the shade to dry, all their flavor will
be retained. When perfectly dry, rub the leaves from the stalks,
pulverize them well, and store in paper bags to prevent the loss of
their flavor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dill and caraway seed are often used in cookery, and, as "variety
is the spice of life," it may be well for the housewife to grow a
few plants of each. The writer has a very vivid recollection of
grandmother's caraway cookies, and many of the present generation
declare a liking for pickles flavored with dill.

       *       *       *       *       *

To add to the attractive appearance of the table in winter I would
advise growing a few plants of the red or purple cabbage to work up
in slaws and salads. Beets are capable of giving a bit of color to
the table that will be as pleasing to the eye as the taste of this
vegetable is delightful to the palate. A root of parsley, potted
in fall, will not only afford much material for the garnishing of
the various dishes to which the housewife likes to add a touch
of this kind, but it can be made the basis of a really beautiful
table decoration. A few bright flowers thrust in among its crinkly
foliage will be quite as effective as many more pretentious
decorative schemes.

       *       *       *       *       *

The amateur gardener may begin work with the belief that one crop
in a season is all he can expect from his garden. He will soon
discover his mistake. The early radishes and the first crop of
lettuce will mature before midsummer, and the ground they occupied
can be planted to later varieties from which a fully developed
second crop can be expected. Or other vegetables, like beets and
onions, can be planted where they grew, to furnish material for
the pickling season. After the early potatoes have been dug the
ground they occupied should not be allowed to lie idle. Something
can be planted there for fall use. To make the garden the greatest
possible source of profit, not a foot of it should be suffered to
go to waste at any time during the growing season.

       *       *       *       *       *

Radishes would be well worth growing for their beauty alone.
A plate of them, nested in their own green foliage gives the
breakfast-table a touch of bright color that adds the charm of
beauty to the food with which it is associated. The writer believes
in making the table as attractive in appearance as the food on it
is toothsome whenever it is possible to do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

I notice that I have overlooked the pumpkin. The oversight was
unintentional, and I beg the pardon of the vegetable without which
the housewife would be "lost" along about Thanksgiving-time.

The pumpkin is out of place in the small garden because of its
rampant growth, but a few plants of the New England Pie variety
should be grown wherever there is room for it, to supply material
for the delicious pumpkin pies most of us enjoy so much in winter.
Well-ripened specimens keep well when stored in cool, dry cellars,
if placed on racks or shelves that will prevent them from coming
in contact with the cold, damp cellar-bottom.

       *       *       *       *       *

If frost nips the tomato-vines before all their fruit is fully
ripened, pull them up and hang them against a wall where the sun
can get at them. Hang blankets over them if the nights are cold.
Here they will ripen as perfectly as on the vines in the garden,
and one can enjoy fresh fruit from them until the coming of very
cold weather.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before cold weather sets in go over the garden, be it large or
small, and gather up every bit of rubbish that can be found. Pull
up the dead plants and burn them. Store racks and trellises under
cover for use another season. If these are properly taken care of
they will last for several years, but if left exposed to the storms
of winter they will be short-lived.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dig a quantity of parsnips and salsify to be stored in the cellar
for winter use. Cover the strawberry-bed with leaves or straw,
spreading lightly. Coarse litter from the barn-yard is often used
for this purpose, but it is objectionable because of its containing
so many weed-seeds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many experienced gardeners advocate plowing or spading the garden
in fall. This, they claim, helps to kill the larvæ which insects
have deposited in the soil, and it puts the ground in good working
condition earlier in spring. But it will have to be gone over in
spring to incorporate with it whatever fertilizer is made use of.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fresh barn-yard manure should never be used. It ought to lie for at
least a season before applying it to the vegetable-garden. Give it
a chance to ferment and kill many of the seeds that are in it.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the soil of the garden contains considerable clay, and is rather
stiff in consequence, the application of coarse sand, old mortar,
and coal-ashes will lighten and greatly improve it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Do not allow grass or weeds to grow on any of the unused soil in or
about the garden, for insects will congregate there and make it the
base from which to make their raids upon the plants you set out to
grow.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are often advised to apply a dressing of salt to the
asparagus-bed. I have never been able to see that the plants
received any direct benefit from it, but if it is scattered quite
thickly over the ground it will prevent weeds from growing, thus
benefiting the plants indirectly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Asparagus is often attacked by a sporadic growth which causes the
foliage to look rusty, hence the term, asparagus-rust. As soon as
it is discovered, cut the tops and burn them. If allowed to remain
the plants will likely be attacked next season, as the spores are
not killed by cold.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the bugs and beetles that attack young plants of cucumber,
squash, and melon do not yield promptly to the application of
dry road-dust, fine coal-ashes, or land-plaster, it may be
well to cover frames with fine wire netting, such as door- and
window-screens are made from, and put over the plants. Care should
be taken to see that these frames fit the ground snugly, or have
earth banked up about them, to prevent the enemy from crawling
under. After the plants have made their third or fourth leaves the
beetle will not be likely to injure them.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am often asked why writers on gardening matters never advise
the use of home-grown seed. One answer to this query is this: In
the ordinary garden plants stand close to one another, and the
varieties we grow are almost sure to mix, by one variety being
pollenized by another. The seed from these plants will seldom
produce plants like either parent variety. Sometimes they may be
equal to them in most respects, but we cannot depend on their being
so. Therefore, if we desire to grow superior varieties that are of
pure blood, it becomes necessary for us to procure fresh seed each
season from dealers who take pains to see that there shall be no
"mixing" among their plants.

       *       *       *       *       *

Every season some enterprising seedsman comes out with an
announcement that he has developed or discovered a remarkable new
variety of some standard vegetable so far superior to any other
variety on the market that, as soon as its merits become fully
known, it will drive all competitors out of the field. Of course
this new candidate for favor is offered at a fancy price, "because
the supply is limited, and the demand for it is increasing to such
an extent that the entire stock will soon be sold out. Order at
once, to avoid disappointment." Don't be in a hurry to take this
advice. Wait until next season. The chances are that you will hear
nothing more about it. We have so many very excellent varieties
now that there is no reason why we should ask for anything better.
If the "novelty" is the possessor of real merit you will be sure
to hear about it later, but it is hardly likely to prove an
improvement on what we already have, for it is hard to imagine
anything superior to the standard varieties of vegetables that we
have at present.

       *       *       *       *       *

I would not advise purchasing seed at the general store. Some of
this may be reliable, but so much of it is inferior that one cannot
afford to run the risk of experimenting with it. It is the part
of wisdom to purchase where you can feel sure of getting just the
variety you want.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are likely to have a few frosty nights along about the middle
of September. Tender vegetables may be injured if not protected.
But if covered with blankets or papers the danger may be tided
over, and during the long period of pleasant weather that generally
follows these early frosts we can get as much pleasure out of the
garden as it afforded during the early fall. It pays to protect.

       *       *       *       *       *

The housewife will take a great deal of delight in the preparation
of piccalilli, chow-chow, and the various other condiments which
have such a stimulating effect on the appetite in early spring,
when "that tired feeling" is likely to make a good deal of the food
that is placed before us unattractive. In the making of these good
things unripe tomatoes and peppers will play an important part. So
will onions that are too small to store away for winter use. She
will find use for all of these things which a man would consider
worthless. Really, there is but little chance for waste of garden
productions if there is an appreciative and prudent woman in the
kitchen.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few roots of horseradish should find a place in all gardens,
preferably in some out-of-the-way corner where it can be allowed
to spread without interfering with other plants. Spread it will,
every little piece of root that is broken off in the ground in
digging the large roots becoming an independent plant as soon
as thrown upon its own resources. Because of this tendency to
"take possession of the land" many persons who have undertaken
its culture refuse to give it a place in their gardens. But it
is really an easy matter to keep it within the limits assigned
it by promptly uprooting any plant that may make its appearance
outside the space given over to it. Those who are fond of something
pungent and peppery to eat with meats, either hot or cold, will
not consent to be without it. It is at its best as soon as the
frost is out of the ground sufficiently to admit of its being dug.
It should be used as soon as possible after digging, as it loses
much of its piquant quality if left exposed to the air for a short
time. Roots can be dug in late fall for winter use, and packed in
boxes of soil, which should be stored in the cellar or some other
place where they can be kept as cool as possible without actually
freezing. But in order to have it in perfection roots freshly dug
in spring must be depended on.

       *       *       *       *       *

Leaves of horseradish make excellent greens if used when green and
tender. A few of them cooked with young beets will give the latter
a flavor that will make their sweetness all the more appreciable.

       *       *       *       *       *

Speaking of greens reminds me to say that the dandelion can be
cultivated to advantage in the home garden. Under cultivation
it improves in size, and becomes a plant quite unlike the tiny,
hundred-leaved specimens we dig from the roadside in spring, of
which a bushel will be required in order to secure a good "mess"
for a greens-loving family, as most of such a picking will have
to be discarded when it is "looked over" preparatory to cooking.
In order to prevent the garden-grown dandelion from becoming a
nuisance it must not be allowed to bloom and develop seed.

       *       *       *       *       *

A most delightful salad can be made from the new growth of the
dandelion, in spring, if properly bleached. This can be done by
covering the plants with dry leaves as soon as they begin to grow,
thus excluding light and inducing rapid development. Or, if most
convenient, flower-pots can be inverted over the plants. The small
amount of light that comes to them through the drainage-hole in the
bottom of the pot will materially assist in hastening the growth of
the leaves in such a manner as to give them a crisp tenderness and
deprive them of that bitter tang which characterizes the foliage
when fully grown under exposure to the light and air. Just enough
of this spicy quality to make the salad delightfully appetizing
will be found in them when grown in this way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mention has several times been made in the preceding pages of
Bordeaux mixture. This is a preparation used by small-fruit growers
everywhere to combat diseases of a fungous character which prevail
to an alarming extent in almost all sections of the country in
early spring. It is a standard remedy for many of the ills that
this class of plants is heir to, and no up-to-date orchardist would
think for a moment of neglecting its use if he would grow a fine
crop of apples. It has not heretofore come into common use among
those who grow small fruit on a small scale, because it is rather
difficult to prepare it properly, but now a preparation of it that
is ready for use by simply mixing it with water can be obtained
from all seedsmen. The use of it in spring when fruit is setting,
to prevent injury from the curculio and other enemies of small
fruits, is to be encouraged.

       *       *       *       *       *

Every gardener should be provided with pruning-shears with which
to prune whatever plants he or she may grow that require frequent
attention of that kind. A jack-knife answers the purpose very well
in the hands of a man, but up to the present time no woman is known
to have made a success of its use.

       *       *       *       *       *

Currant-bushes grow readily from cuttings. Insert a piece of
half-ripened wood five or six inches long into the ground and it
will almost invariably take root. In order to keep this plant in
healthy bearing condition it should be pruned rather severely each
season. Cut away all weak wood, and encourage the production of
strong new shoots, from which fruit will be borne next season.
Remove a good share of the old branches after they have ripened
the present season's crop. If this is not done the bush will after
a little become crowded with branches, and as all branches, old
and new, will attempt to bear, you will be pretty sure to have a
production of very inferior fruit, since it will be impossible for
the bush to perfect all the berries that set and have them come up
to the standard of superiority that should govern the grower. Small
currants are good, as far as they go, but the trouble is--they
don't go far enough. Many of them will have to be discarded when
the housewife makes her selection.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the amateur gardener desires to give some of his vegetables
an early start, I would advise him to try what may be called the
"sod-method" in preference to any other. Sod is cut from roadside
or pasture in fall and stacked up in the cellar for use in early
spring. When seed is to be sown, invert the piece of sod, and
scatter the seed over the surface, which, it will be understood,
was _not_ the surface originally. In other words, what _was_ the
surface is now the bottom of the piece which receives the seed.
When it comes time to put the seedlings out of doors the sod can be
cut apart in such a manner that each has its bit of soil, and this
can be transferred to the garden without interfering in any way
with the roots of the young plant.

       *       *       *       *       *

While barn-yard manure--especially that which contains a good deal
of cow manure--is one of the very best of all fertilizers, it is
not always obtainable, and this makes it necessary to resort to
some kind of commercial fertilizer. If one is not familiar with any
of these fertilizers he ought not to select at random, as he may
get a kind not at all adapted to his requirements. I would advise
finding some one who understands the peculiarity of the soil in his
locality, and who has had some experience in the use of commercial
fertilizers, and being governed by his advice. Experimental
knowledge is often expensive, and the use of a fertilizer that
is not adapted to the soil in one's garden often ruins a season's
crops.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ideal support for pea-vines is brush, but not every gardener is
able to obtain it. Some persons substitute binder-twine stretched
from stake to stake. This answers very well as long as the weather
remains dry, but as soon as a rain-storm comes along the twine
absorbs so much moisture that it relaxes its tension and sags in
such a manner as to endanger the vines which have taken hold of it.
Coarse-meshed wire netting will be found much more satisfactory,
as it will not sag and cannot be blown down by winds. Care must be
taken to see that it _is_ coarse-meshed, as the fine-meshed sorts
will not admit of the vine's working its way out and in among the
meshes. If a supply of brush can be obtained, use it by all means,
and at the end of the pea-season pull it up and store it away in a
dry place. If this is done, it can be made to do duty for several
seasons. If netting is used, do not allow it to remain out of doors
in winter. By untacking it from the stakes which are set for its
support, and rolling it up carefully, and storing it away from the
storms of winter, it can be made to last a lifetime.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't depend upon home-grown seed. Some of it may be just as
good as that which can be bought from reliable seedsmen, but the
probabilities are that it is not, because of the tendencies of most
plants to "mix." Plants grown from seed saved from the home garden
often--and generally--show some of the characteristics of several
varieties of the same family, and frequently these characteristics
are not the ones we would like to perpetuate. Seedlings from
varieties pollenized by other varieties show a decided inclination
to revert to original types, and these are in most instances the
very characteristics we would like to get away from. It is always
advisable to procure fresh seed each season, and to procure it from
men who make seed-growing a specialty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The housewife who likes to make her table and the food she places
upon it as attractive as possible, will do well to pot a few plants
of parsley in early fall. Choose for this purpose the smaller
plants. Three or four can be put into one pot if the latter is of
good size. These can be kept in the kitchen window, where they will
be quite as ornamental as most house plants, or they can be kept in
the cellar window if frost is prevented from getting to them. From
them one can always obtain material for the decoration of roasts
and other dishes which require garnishment.

       *       *       *       *       *

Squashes and pumpkins will not keep well if stored in very warm
places. A room that is just a little above the frost-point is the
best place for them. It will be found far superior to a cellar, as
the latter is generally more or less damp, and dampness is one of
the worst enemies of these vegetables. A cool, dry atmosphere is
what they need, and if it can be given them they can be kept in
fine condition throughout the entire winter. Care should be taken,
in gathering them, to not break their stems. If this is done they
frequently decay at the place where stem and vegetable unite, and
this condition spreads rapidly to all portions of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The question is frequently asked:

Would you advise plowing or spading the garden in fall? If it
could have but one season's attention, I would advise giving it in
spring. But if the owner of a garden has ample time to devote to
it, I would advise plowing or spading in both seasons. Turning up
the soil in fall exposes to the elements that portion of it which
is most likely to contain worms and insects which have burrowed
away for the winter, and it is desirable to make way with as many
of these as possible. Stirring the soil in spring will do them very
little harm, as the weather will be in their favor. Fall stirring
of the soil is also conducive to a greater degree of mellowness
than is likely to result from one operation, and that in spring,
as the clods of earth that are thrown up disintegrate under the
influence of frost and will be in a condition to pulverize easily
when spring comes.

       *       *       *       *       *

The average gardener doesn't seem to associate the growing of
vegetables with an idea of beauty, but he will find, if he looks
into the matter, that the vegetable-garden can be made really
ornamental. A row of carrots with its feathery green foliage is
quite as attractive as many of our decorative plants; and beets,
with crimson foliage, are really tropical in their rich coloring.
Parsley and lettuce make excellent and ornamental edgings for
beds containing other vegetables. Tomatoes, trained to upright
trellises, are quite as showy as many kinds of flowers, when
their fruit begins to ripen. Peppers work in charmingly with the
colorscheme of the vegetable-garden. A little study of garden
possibilities will soon convince one that it is an easy matter
to make the vegetable-garden as attractive, so far as color is
concerned, as the flower-garden is. And while we are at work at
gardening, why not make it as attractive as possible? The pleasing
appearance of it will lend additional qualities to the fine flavor
of its vegetables if we believe that beauty and practicality ought
to work in harmony with each other.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sage, summer savory, and other garden-grown plants used for
seasoning or medicinal purposes should be gathered when in their
prime. If one waits until late in the season before cutting them,
much of their virtue will have been expended in the ripening
process which all plants undergo after they complete their growth.
Cut them close to the ground, and tie them in loose bunches, and
hang them in a shady place until their moisture has evaporated.
Then put them in paper bags and hang away in a store-room or closet
for the winter. Plants treated in this way will retain nearly all
their original flavor, and be found far superior to the kinds you
buy at the store.

Cucumbers that have grown to full size should be gathered if not
wanted for use, as to allow them to remain on the vines after
reaching maturity, and while ripening, materially affects the
productiveness of the plants.

       *       *       *       *       *

Endive is the basis of one of our best and most wholesome fall and
winter salads. When nearly full-grown it must be bleached, like
celery. Gather the leaves together and tie them in such a manner as
to exclude the light. Do this when they are perfectly dry. If wet
or damp they are likely to rot.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some gardeners use what is called onion "sets" instead of seed.
These "sets" are the result of sowing seed very thickly in spring
the season before they are wanted for planting. As soon as their
tops die off in summer--as they will if seed was sown thickly
enough--store in a dry and airy place, and the following spring
replant. By this method large onions are obtained very early in the
season. Most market-gardeners depend on "sets" instead of seed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mention has been made of a few of our pot and medicinal plants.
Here is a larger list for those who are interested in plants of
this kind: balm, sweet basil, caraway, catnip, camomile, coriander,
dill, pennyroyal, peppermint, saffron, tansy, and wormwood. Our
grandmothers had unlimited faith in the medicinal qualities of some
of these plants, and many a mother will be glad to know that she
has a stock of some of them stored away for winter use when colds
and coughs are prevalent among children or grown people. Some of
the old home remedies are far preferable to those we are accustomed
to using, as they are harmless, if they do no good, which is
something that cannot be said of most drugs that are taken into the
system.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't wait for the currant-worm to show itself on your bushes. You
can safely count on its coming. Act on the defensive in advance by
spraying your plants thoroughly with an infusion of Nicoticide,
keeping in mind the fact that it is easier to prevent an insect
from establishing itself on your plants than it is to get rid of it
when it has secured a foothold there. In spraying, be sure that the
infusion gets to all parts of the bush. Throw it up well among the
branches. Simply spraying it over the plant isn't what is needed.
It must reach the under side of the foliage, and all parts where
insects and other enemies might hide away and escape contact with
the infusion used.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the small-fruit plants in your garden show evidence of having
outlived their usefulness, don't try to renew them, but dig them
up and plant new ones. You cannot make a satisfactory plant out of
one that has begun to show age. It is a good plan to set a few new
plants each season. If this is done there need be no gap in the
fruit-supply, as there will always be some coming on to take the
places of those whose days of usefulness are over. Too often we
neglect our gardens until they are in such a debilitated condition
that we get but slight returns from them, and then we set to work
to make them all over, and in this way we fail to get as much out
of them as we ought to. By planting something each season we keep
them up to bearing-point, and have no "off seasons."

       *       *       *       *       *

I wonder how many housewives who may read this little book have
ever dried sweet-corn for winter use. Not many, I think. But if
they were to do so one season I am quite confident that thereafter
they would not willingly be without a generous supply of it,
for it will be found far more delicious than the ordinary canned
article. In drying it, some cook it for a few minutes, and then cut
it from the cob and spread it out on plates to dry. Others do not
think it worth while to cook it, but cut it from the cob as soon
as gathered, and dry it by first putting it in the oven for a few
minutes before exposing it to the sun to dry. The little time in
the oven is equivalent to the partial cooking spoken of. Turn it
on the plates on which it is spread every day, and do not consider
it dry enough to store away until it appears to have parted with
all its moisture. Then put it into paper bags or glass jars, and
set away in a cool, dark place to remain until you desire to use
it. Soak it for two or three hours before putting it on the stove
to cook. When properly cooked it will be tender and have a more
delicious flavor than canned corn. The generous use of butter and
cream will make it a dish that is fit to set before a king.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those who happen to live in places where it is not possible to
have cellars, because of low ground, can have places in which to
store vegetables for winter use that are really preferable to the
ordinary cellar, by constructing what might be called above-ground
pits, for want of a better name. Build up a wall four or five feet
high, and bank up about it with so much earth that frost cannot
penetrate it. Cover with a roof that will keep out cold and rain.
Have a doorway opening into it from an entry built after the
fashion of the little storm-vestibules we put over the front doors
of our dwellings in winter. In other words, an entry into which we
can step and close one door behind us before we open the one that
lets us into the place where our vegetables are. Such a room can
be constructed with but little expense. Because of its being above
ground it will be drier than a cellar, and in the majority of cases
it will be more convenient to get at. It should be boarded up with
a good quality of matched boarding, and its walls should be lined
with two or three thicknesses of sheathing paper put on in such a
manner as to show no cracks or openings.

       *       *       *       *       *

The best place for a vegetable-garden is where the soil is
naturally well drained and where there is a slope to the south.
Such a slope enables it to get the full benefit of sunshine, and
sunshine, it will be found, is an important factor in successful
gardening. If such an exposure is out of the question, aim to make
conditions as favorable as possible. A closely boarded fence on the
north side of a garden affords excellent protection from cold winds
early in the season, and helps greatly in keeping away frost in
fall, when many plants are maturing.

Mention is made in the above paragraph of good drainage. This is
quite important. If the soil of a garden is _not_ well drained,
many kinds of vegetables cannot be grown in it, and few will attain
to even a partial degree of success. Therefore see to it that
by ditching, or the use of tile, all surplus water is properly
disposed of. Much good can be done to a heavy soil by adding to it
sharp, coarse sand, old mortar--anything that will have a tendency
to counteract the heaviness resulting from undue retention of water
or a naturally too close character of soil. If sand is obtainable,
and your garden is one in which clay predominates, use it in
generous quantities. You will find it as beneficial as manure.
Spread it over the surface before plowing or spading, and work it
in thoroughly. A few seasons' application will bring about a very
marked change for the better in any garden whose soil cannot be
made fine and mellow without the addition of some disintegrating
matter. Good drainage must be secured in order to grow good
vegetables, and the use of tile will be found a most effective
remedy for the evil of a soil unduly retentive of moisture.

       *       *       *       *       *

In almost all localities there will be families who have no garden,
but who would make liberal use of vegetables if they were easily
procurable. There is a chance for boys and girls to earn an "honest
penny." If it is found that there is likely to be more in the home
garden than the family can make use of, canvass the neighborhood
for customers for the probable surplus. It will be found an easy
matter to dispose of it. I know several amateur child gardeners who
secure enough in this way to pay for all the seed they need. Some
of them have regular customers each season, and gardening begins
to look to them like a profitable occupation. I don't know that
they will become professional gardeners, but they will be learning
something as well as earning something while they are fitting
themselves for whatever occupation in life they may decide on, and
what they learn in the garden will be of benefit in after-life in
more ways than one.

Don't neglect to save everything that can be made use of for
fertilizing purposes. In many a home the "suds" of washing-day
are disposed of as worthless. If applied to growing things in the
garden they will often prove as beneficial as the application of a
fertilizer that costs quite a little sum of money. Especially is
this the case if the season happens to be a dry one. If there does
not seem to be a need of more moisture in the soil on wash-day,
save the soapy water against a time of need. It will be sure to
"come handy" during the season.

Some families are so unfortunate as to have no cellar. Few
vegetables can be kept well, or for a great length of time, in
ordinary rooms, unless something is done to modify the conditions
usually existing there. If a large box is filled with dry sand,
potatoes, parsnips, salsify, beets, and carrots can be buried in
it and made to retain their freshness for an indefinite period.
Of course this storage-box should be kept as far as possible
from artificial heat, and no dampness should be allowed to come
in contact with it, as sand absorbs moisture almost as readily
as a sponge, and the satisfactory keeping of the vegetables
named depends upon dryness more than anything else. The lower
the temperature of the place in which vegetables are stored
the better, provided it never gets below the freezing-point.
Where boxes of sand are used, slight freezings are not likely to
seriously injure vegetables, as the sand extracts the frost so
gradually that but little harm is done. But hard freezing must be
guarded against or premature decay will result.

It is an excellent plan to bury some of the vegetables named above
in a dry place in the garden, for use in spring. They will be found
as fresh and crisp as when put into the ground, if covered deep
enough to protect them from frost.



XII

HEALTH IN THE GARDEN. A CHAPTER EXPRESSLY FOR WOMEN READERS


The writer of this book often finds women who seem "all run down,"
without being able to tell of any positive physical ailment.
Inquiry generally develops the fact that they have overworked;
that they have been confined to the house the greater part of
the time, busy with household matters, and that in caring for
others they have neglected to care for themselves. Though I am not
an M.D. I take the liberty of prescribing for patients of this
class. My prescription is a course of treatment in the garden. I
insist on their getting out of doors, where the air is pure, and
the sunshine bright and warm, and Nature is waiting to give her
pleasant companionship to whoever signifies a desire to make her
acquaintance.

There is health in the garden. But because one has to dig for it
some persons prefer to keep on enjoying their old miserableness
day after day and year after year. These are the incurables--the
"chronic" cases that one cannot expect to do much with or for. But
those who are willing to exert themselves in an effort to get back
the tone that life has lost to a considerable extent will find that
work in the garden is a better tonic than our doctors have a record
of in their pharmacopoeia.

The earth fairly tingles with life in spring, and by putting
ourselves in contact with it we absorb some of this vitality. We
breathe in the wine of a _new_ life, and we thrill with a thousand
sensations that can come only from putting ourselves in close touch
with Nature. You can tell a woman who needs a change from indoors
to outdoors that she ought to take more exercise, but if you
advise walking the chances are that she won't walk much. That kind
of exercise doesn't appeal to her, and to make whatever kind of
exercise she takes effective it must be something that affords her
pleasure--something that she enjoys more than she does doing things
from a "_sense of duty_," or simply because she has been _told_ to
do it. What is needed is some form of exercise that has _an object
in it_--a definite object, rather than the more or less abstract
one of "regaining health."

Give her a few packages of seeds and arouse in her the enthusiasm
to have a garden and she will get the very best kind of exercise
out of her attempt to carry out the plan, and the "definite
object"--in other words, the garden--that she has in mind will
keep her so delightfully busy that she will forget all about the
health-features of the undertaking until it dawns upon her with
startling suddenness some fine day that she "has got her health
back." How or when it came she cannot tell you. All she knows
is that she feels like a new woman. After that there will be no
necessity to repeat the prescription, for one year's half-way
successful work in the garden fixes "the garden habit" for all
time. Nothing else can afford so much pleasure and exercise in
happy combination as gardening, or exert a greater fascination over
the person who allows herself to come under its influence.

I cannot begin to tell you what wonderful and delightful things I
have learned in the garden. It is like having the Book of Nature
opened before you and being taught its lore by the book's own
author. You see magical things taking place about you every day,
and every day there are more of them, to set you thinking and
wondering. You may work until you are tired, but you do not realize
physical wear and tear because your mind has something else that
it considers of greater importance to busy itself over. Only after
the work of the day is done will you become conscious of physical
weariness, and then it is that you find out what the luxury of rest
is; to fully appreciate rest we must first understand what it is to
be really tired.

Lassitude, ennui--these do not give us a knowledge of genuine
tiredness, therefore we are not in a condition to receive the full
benefit of that rest which means a reaction of the physical system
until we have done some kind of work that makes reaction necessary
in order to establish a normal equilibrium. The rest that comes
after getting really tired is so full of delightful sensations that
we admit to ourselves that it is richly worth the price we have to
pay for it.

There is a subtle charm about garden work from its very beginning.
The seed we sow has a mystery wrapped up in it. The processes of
germination are as fascinating as a fairytale. The development of
the tiny seedling is a source of constant wonder to us. We watch
for the first bud with eager impatience, and it has to be on
the alert if it succeeds in opening without our being on hand to
observe the performance. Spring begins the story, summer carries
it forward, and autumn seems to complete it, but there is always
the promise of the retelling of the story another year to keep us
interested from the end of one season to the coming of another.
Garden work is a sort of thousand and one days' entertainment, in
which the interest is continually kept up--always something to look
forward to--always something new.

The woman who grows weary over the monotony of household duties,
but cannot put them entirely aside, will find relaxation in
the garden. The change will rest her. And the woman who has no
household duties to claim her attention needs something to get
interested in. Both will find the necessary stimulus in growing
flowers.

But in order to do this it must not be "played at." Set about it
because you mean to accomplish something. A week after you have
begun in earnest you will find yourself looking forward impatiently
to the hour that takes you out of doors. You will forget about the
gloves that you probably provided yourself with at the outset. You
won't be bothered with veils. Tan will have no terrors for you.
You will look upon dirt as something pleasing because you begin to
see the possibilities in it. You will go back to the house with an
appetite that makes plain bread and butter delicious.

Have a garden.

And do all the work in it yourself.

That's the secret of the benefit you are to get out of it.


THE END



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

-Plain print and punctuation errors fixed.





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use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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